One of the quiet and profound joys of my current life is the early Mass on weekdays. A devout group of fifteen or so gather at 6:45 am to offer a simple but perfect sacrifice of praise to God. I have written about it before, about its light, its people, and the chapel where we pray.
The chapel is the so-called friars' chapel, which is adjacent to the left side of the sanctuary of the church. It suits the early Mass very much. Unfortunately, however, sometimes the intimacy of the smaller space becomes an occasion for the temptation to visit and chit-chat among those who like to come fifteen or twenty minutes early.
Of course I'm not into this. I like to get everything set up by 6:15 or so and then settle down for a half-hour of prayer and meditation before it's time for Mass. So what to do about the chatters, whom I do not wish to hear nor afford the right to steal my recollection? Up until today my solution was to remove myself physically as far as I could. I would get all vested, except for the chasuble, and then go sit on the other side of church, all the way in the back. This put some distance between me and the chapel. When it was almost time for Mass, I would walk up to the front, put on the chasuble, kneel before the tabernacle for a moment of final preparation, and walk into the chapel for Mass.
Recently, however, I have wondered if this was truly responsible. On the one hand, I could still hear the talking, which disturbed my prayer. On the other hand, shouldn't I be doing something to help the chatters confront the temptation to use the time before Mass in a frivolous way?
So today I tried something different. Instead of going to the back of church for my prayer before Mass, I knelt down right in the middle of the chapel. Everyone was quiet.